Keyboard Playing

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Transcript Keyboard Playing

Keyboard Playing
Lesson 1 of 3
Version 1: Jul 2009
Characteristics of the keyboard
Introduction to the EML keyboards
Playing chords and sequences
Case studies
Jamming session
A Keyboard is NOT a Piano
 The piano is just one member of the keyboard
 In everyday usage, keyboard refers to an
electronic instrument with a keybed
 Keyboard is easier to play than piano
perfectly in tune
lighter keys
transpose and octave buttons
wrong notes and timing may be corrected
A Synthesizer is NOT a Keyboard
Synthesizer is a machine that creates
sounds from basic building blocks and
offers many parameters to tweak the
sound creation process
Can be hardware or software
Not all keyboards have built-in
Not all synthesizers come with keyboards
Characteristics of Keyboards
 Number of keys
61 keys most common
25 keys becoming popular because of increase in laptop
 Key action
hammer action or weighted: like a piano
synth action or light: like a toy
semi-weighted: compromise between extremes
 Velocity
 Aftertouch
detects the additional pressure applied after a key has
been depressed
channel vs polyphonic
Characteristics of Keyboards
 On-board sounds
keyboards without on-board sounds are usually
MIDI controllers that are meant to be used with a
computer or an external sound module
each instrument sound is called a patch or preset
patches can be organized into banks
 On-board synthesizer
 On-board sequencer
the power to record and arrange musical tracks
keyboards with built-in synthesizers and
sequencers are known as workstations
Characteristics of Keyboards
 Controllers
faders, knobs, buttons, wheels, ribbons and more
 Pedals and pedal input
 Connectivity options
most common outputs: 1/4 inch line-out (audio) and
MIDI out (notes and control information)
other outputs: headphones, USB, MIDI thru, memory
cards, diskettes
inputs: 1/4 inch line-in (audio), MIDI in, pedals, breath
The EML Keyboards
Korg X3
Released: 1993
Good strings and horn sounds
Keyboard split
Many effects and an envelope generator
Sequencing capabilities
Roland XP-50
Released: 1995
Good for simulated instruments
Orchestral and lots of percussive sounds
Many effects and 8 LFOs
Simple sequencing capabilities
Roland JD-800
Released: 1991
Big and impressive
Virtual analog synthesizer
Many faders and controls
Good keyed instruments and chromatic
percussion sounds
Korg Wavestation
Released: 1990
Pioneer in wave sequencing
playing very short pieces of different audio files
one after another
Popularised vector synthesis
morphing between 4 sounds
Yamaha CS1x
Released: 1996
Good for electronic sounds
Dedicated filter and envelope knobs
play a sequence of notes by holding down one
(or more) keys
Kawai K1
Released: 1988
Aims to recreate realistic instrument
results are not good by today’s standards
1 LFO and 1 envelope generator
M-Audio Axiom 25
Released: 2006
Top-of-the-line product
Percussion pads
Many faders, knobs and buttons
Alesis Photon X25
Released: 2006
Only mass market keyboard with infra-red
AXYZ dome senses motion in 3 different
Many knobs and buttons
Built-in audio interface
not as good as dedicated ones
Christmas lights
Guest Appearances
Yamaha DX7
Released: 1983
Most popular FM (frequency modulation)
synthesizer ever
One of the first synths to have MIDI
6 operators
M-Audio Keystation 61ES
Released: 2004
M-Audio’s first attempts to make larger
Almost no controllers
Typical M-Audio quality which has been
associated with the company until today
Practical Musicianship
The notes of a keyboard
12 notes form an octave
These notes are arranged as shown:
If you don;t
know music
theory, don’t
worry about the
black notes yet
The notes of a keyboard
This pattern repeats itself along the
keyboard. On a 61-key keyboard, there
are 61 ∕ 12 = 5 octaves and one extra note.
Higher octaves have higher pitches
Tonal sequences in C major
Keeping the same relative finger positions,
a simple chord* progression can be formed
by moving up and down the keyboard
Press the 1st, 3rd, 5th white keys of the
octave pattern (C, E, G) shown previously
Use one hand only
This will be the starting (or root) chord
* A chord is 3 or more notes played at the same time
I - IV - V chord progression
move 3 white keys up
Keep the
same finger
go back to beginning
move 1 white key up
Progressively boring exercises
1. Play every chord 4 times slowly in a
steady rhythm
 focus on accuracy instead of speed
2. Play every chord 4 times quickly
3. Play using the other hand
Some music theory
 This progression is known as a I - IV - V
progression in C major
 The first chord is C major
Next chord is F major
Next chord is G major
 Notice that C, F, and G are the I, IV and V white
keys on the keyboard
 This progression can be found in almost all pop
It is possible to play accompaniment for a lot of songs
using this chord progression alone
Fun variations to try
 Pads
 select a lush sound and hold down the notes of each chord
 Chord stabs
 play each chord in a steady, fast rhythm
 Broken chords
 play the individual notes of a chord in a repeated pattern
 for example, if the 1st, 2nd and 3rd notes of a chord are referred to
as 1, 3, and 5, then some patterns would be
 1-5-3-5 | 1-5-3-5 | 1-5-3-5 | 1-5-3-5
 1-3-5-3 | 1-3-5-3 | 1-3-5-3 | 1-3-5-3
 5-1-3-1 | 5-1-3-1 | 5-1-3-1 | 5-1-3-1
 Sequences
 formed by using a particular broken chord pattern for all chords
of a progression
Context of keyboard in jamming
 On the piano...
left hand usually plays accompaniment
right hand plays the melody
 Keyboardist in a group (e.g. band)
may play the accompaniment only and is free to play
with any or both hands
may play the lead melody, usually with one hand
controlling controllers at the same time
can become a cheap version of an orchestra
may have to change patches quickly, many times in a
Lead playing technique - Pitch bend
Standard feature on most keyboards
Center = normal pitch
Fully pushed upwards usually increases
the pitch by 2 semitones
Fully pushed downwards usually increases
the pitch by 2 semitones
Need practice to master the degree of
bending required without sounding cheesy
Case Studies: Progressive Metal
 Jordan Rudess, resident
keyboardist of Dream Theater
 Look out for the use of pitch
bend, ribbon controller, change
of patches
 Note differences between a lead
keyboard score and a standard
piano score
 Watch Beyond This Life from
Metropolis 2000: Scenes from
New York (2001)
Case Studies: New Age
 Jean Michel Jarre,
electronic music stalwart –
composer, performer,
 Use of flamboyant sets
and instruments make up
for the simple melodies
 Signature instrument:
Laser harp
 Watch Oxygene 4 from
Oxygen in Moscow (1997)
Let’s play cheesy songs!
Photo Credits
Korg X3: http://
Roland XP-50:
Roland JD-800: http://
Korg Wavestation: Matt Perry,
Yamaha CS1x: S.Didam,
Kawai K1: http://
M-Audio Axiom 25:
Alesis Photon X25:
Yamaha DX7:
M-Audio Keystation 61ES:
Jordan Rudess:
Jean MIchel Jarre: